On last Tuesday’s episode of “The Voice,” NBC’s reality singing competition, the Twitter instant save was introduced. When the bottom three were revealed, America had five minutes to take to Twitter and tweet to save its favorite artist using a hashtag. This type of audience power was met with excellent feedback.
This type of tactic is only one of the ways that the producers of “The Voice” are doing things right. While “American Idol” and “The X Factor” continue to slip in ratings, in the fall of 2012, “The Voice” was solely responsible for making NBC the most watched network in America.
Americans live for the fresh and new, and “The Voice” offers something bold every season. These twists are effective for heating up the competition because they allow for direct audience interaction. With the new instant save, audiences now feel like they have more power than ever. In the digital age that we live in, it is truly baffling that so many shows are failing in marketability. “The Voice” is clearly drawing in viewers every week, so why are other similar shows lacking the ability to do so?
As with the future of fictional television, I am interested in the future of reality competition shows, particularly music ones. If producers do not follow tactics like the ones used on “The Voice,” they will continue to lower in viewership. Big broadcasting companies spend millions of dollars in market research alone, so why is there still a lack of audience?
Studying trends in today’s generation is not an easy task. It seems like everyday people move on to a new fad. It really is incredible that any television show can stay relevant past a season or two. While this is a harsh reality, it is the reality nonetheless, and producers need to start tapping into what Americans really want.
If these shows do not grow with the times, then viewers will surely leave them behind for better and more relevant programs. And who could blame them?
According to an American Time Use Survey done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in June 2013, Americans spend on average 2.8 hours a day watching television. While this may seem like a large number, this time is equivalent to one episode of “The Voice” or “The X Factor” and maybe the nightly news. Americans do not have time to watch an abundance of programs, so naturally they will only choose the most interesting ones.
What “The Voice” is doing that the other shows are failing to do is expanding their reach beyond those 2.8 hours. Viewers discuss “The Voice” with their friends, download artists’ tracks on iTunes, and keep up with their favorites via Twitter. While this kind of dedication exists for other reality shows, none of them has the same following that “The Voice” has.
Each show should find the strategy that best works for them. “The Voice” is lucky enough to have found a niche and has grown on that original platform. If other shows do not start finding their own way to reach audiences, they can expect to continue watching their ratings plummet.